The above is all and well if you are just discussing the revised records that have come down to us without questioning whether or not these records have been revised. But now this is OLD, OUTDATED NEWS since the VAT4956, the critical astronomical text that is used to date year 37 of Nebuchadnezzar to 568BCE has been discovered to contain double-dating to 511BCE which makes sense if that was the original chronology, thus the entire records of kingships that have "survived" were from the revionists and may not have anything to do with the original events. So truly informed scholars would not consider any of this beyond noting this is just a reflection of what the revised records claim happened.
But in that vein, here is additional information which you can take or leave regarding the reign of Nabonidus per the Bible and other research.
1. Keep in mind that Belshazzar ruled beginning the third year of Nabonidus. I believe when the revisions were made, that 17-year rule was simply applied to Nabonidus who actually ruled 19 years. Here are a few reasons why:
a) Ancient Babylonian records claim that Cyrus began his 20-year rule of Persia in the 6th year of Nabonidus when he overthrew Astyages. The 20-year interval is well known since it shows Cyrus beginning in 559BCE and ending in 539BCE, at the time of the fall of Babylon. He then ruled for 9 more years, counting from year 1 again when he began to rule in Babyon.
But please note if we presume that Babylon fell the same year as Nabonidus ended his rule and Cyrus began to rule in his sixth year, then you are looking at 25-year rule for Nabonidus! This is one of the more blatant contradictions within the ancient records themselves.
On the other hand, if you follow the Bible per Zechariah 1 and 7, you'll note that the Jews were still in exile during the reign of Darius, the Mede, 70 years from the fall of Jerusalem expiring in his 2nd year and 70 years of mourning for Gedaliah expiring in his 4th year.
This is consistent with Josephus who claims the 70 years of "servitude" began not at the fall of Jerusalem but at the time of the LAST DEPORTATION, which was 4 years afterwards. That being the case, the 70 years which would mark the return of the Jews from Babylon would not have been completed for another two years after the 4th of Darius, the Mede and thus we can BIBLICALLY DATE the reign of Darius, the Mede (a rulership suppressed by the revised records) as being 6 years.
That helps a lot? How? Because if 6 out of the first 20 years of the reign of Cyrus which began in the 6th year of Nabonidus belong to Darius the Mede, it means that Babylon fell 7 years before Cyrus became king in Babylon, allowing for the rule of Darius the Mede. If we thus subtract those six years from the implied 25-year rule of Nabonidus we end up with a 19-year rule for Nabonidus.
Having stated that, remembering that Belshazzar's rule began 2 years later, it is likely the rule of Belshazzar that was considered the 17-year rule and the first 2 years of the rule of Nabonidus were suppressed.
Finally, this is the DEDUCTIBLE number of years for the rule of Nabonidus based upon the direct chronology comparison that we now have available. That is...
Based upon the Bible and Josephus, since we have to insert a 74-year period from the fall of Jerusalem until the 1st of Cyrus, we can calculate the length of the reigns of some of the kings by deduction based upon what we know.
Basically, from the 19th year of Nebuchadnezzar per the revised in 586BCE chronology until the 1st of Cyrus in 538BCE is a period of only 48 years, which should be 74 years. The difference is 26 years. Thus 26 years of Neo-Babylonian kings were suppressed.
From the Bible we know we can add back in 6 years for Darius the Mede, which leaves us 20 years.
Per Josephus, Antiquities, he states that Evil-Merodach ruled for 18 years, which is 16 years more than given to him in the revised chronology. 16 from 20 leaves 4 more years still.
The Bible confirms that Nebuchadnezzar ruled not 43 years but 45 years. Note that Evil-Merodach began to rule in the 37th year of exile of Jehoiachin, whose rule was synonymous except perhaps by 1 month with the rule of Zedekiah. Zedekiah's 11th year matched the 19th year of Nebuchadnezzar, and that is an 8-year gap. Thus the 37th year of Zedekiah plus 8 is 45 years. Making that presumption, therefore, 2 years were reduced from the reign of Nebuchadnezzar which subtracted from the 4 we have left leaves us 2 years to make up for. Based upon the above, obviously, those two years belong to Nabonidus.
Finally just as a REFERENCE so you know what you're up against before you close the books, is the astronomical references for the rule of Nabonidus, and they are two:
1. THE FAMOUS ECLIPSE OF THALES. I'll try to keep this short. Basically, the experts know that Thales could not have predicted the eclipse for the Lydian-Median peace agreement in 585BCE and thus that date has been dismissed by such experts as Otto Neugebaur, the famed Assyriologist who interpreted the hundreds of astronomical texts from the Seleucid Period. The technology for predicting WHEN and WHERE a solar eclipse event would occur was not available to the Greeks at the time, with the exception of a rare eclipse cycle which occurred 54 years and 1 month later than a previous eclipse which did occur in relatively the same longitude but at a specifically highter lattitude, approximately 15 degrees higher. Thus it was possible to predict that type of solar eclipse. Since Thales became famous for predicting this eclipse and it is known he used Babylonian records, there is reason to believe this eclipse event took place in early 478BCE which was a predictable eclipse of this sort? Why 478BCE? Because per the Bible which would date the 1st of Cyrus in 455BCE, 478BCE would fall in the 2nd year of Nabonidus! That makes critical historical sense, though, because Herodotus who reported on the eclipse event says that it was Nabonidus ("Labynetus") who was king of Babylon at the time. We know further, as noted, that Nabonidus left the throne and everything in charge of his son, Belshazzar in his third year. Thus if we presume that Belshazzar might have negotiated this agreement between the Lydians and Medes during his reign since Nabonidus was elsewhere worshipping his Moon God, Sin, then our first pointer for dating 478BCE to the reign of Nabonidus would be during his first two years when he was actually ruling as king. If we date the 1st of Nabonidus thus to 480BCE, then his 6th year would fall in 475BCE which would begin the 20-year rule of Cyrus which would then end in 455BCE! So it works out perfectly both for the history and the eclipse and that would confirm by the eclipse event that it actually occurred during the reign of Nabonidus in his 2nd year, early 478BCE!
2. NABON 18 ECLIPSE EVENT. Probably the second most critical astronomical reference, but a complex one for the correct dating of this period is the Nabon 18 reference to a lunar eclipse event that occurred, but this was during the reign of NABONIDUS! Thus why I'm bringing it up. Basically, often in the revisions, substitute eclipses had to be found in order to revise the chronology. You can't just move dates around, for instance, when a well-known eclipse event was supposed to happen. So the revisionists would often either find another similar eclipse event as a substitute eclipse, or if there was a suitable coincidental eclipse event in the revised record, that reference was left on the books. Thus an eclipse event that occurred in the 2nd of Nabonidus does occur in both the revised 2nd year of Nabonidus of 445BCE and the original 2nd year of Nabonidus of 479-478BCE!! But it's the details of this eclipse that make this a great reference. That's because this was not simply any lunar eclipse, but the moon actually "set while eclipsed". This reference dismisses the 445BCE event as fraudulent, however, since the eclipse in that year was already over before the moon actually set. You can check out this reference in GT3. So what about the actual dating in 478BCE? Does the moon set while eclipsed? YES! For one thing, that reference in general suggests a TOTAL eclipse. That is, the Moon setting while in total phase is what would freak out Nabonidus. The story goes that when the Moon set while eclipsed he then sacrificed his daughter to the Moon God. But why? If the eclipse was only partial, as it was in 445BCE and totally over or almost totally over, what's the problem? Further, why would a partial eclipse make this so special? But...if this ecilpse were TOTAL and it actually set while TOTAL, that would be cause for alarm! That's because it would seem that the Moon God was conquered and lost and hadn't come back, etc. Thus the need for a sacrifice. The 478BCE eclipse was TOTAL, adding to this being the original reference.
Only problem is, did it set while eclipsed? Well, in this regard, with respect to the revised chronology versus the original, we have to use the SK400 reference to one of two eclipses because of the specific timing of that ecilpse. That is, the eclipse of Tammuz 14 must occur around one hour before Midnight, that is around 11:00 p.m. The eclipses mentioned in the text, though, do not fit 523BCE because the interval between the eclipses is too long. We know this because the specific time of night for both eclipses are given. Here's where the match-up comes in. The eclipse interval that matchest the actual text matches perfectly to 541BCE. That matches "year 7" of Nebuchadnezzar per the VAT4956 which dates year 37 to 511BCE. Thus this is believed to be another encrypted reference to the original chronology. But in order to assign an 11:00 p.m. eclipse event to 541BCE, you have to make a rather drastic adjustment in the eclipse times, which of course, you can, since the times found in the "popular canon" are based upon records from Persia and not actual calculations and that's a whole new can of worms. But don't worry, at this theoretical stage, you still have to extrapolate the times to all other eclipses. That is, presuming that the 541BCE eclipse really was the original eclipse in year 7 of Nebuchadnezzar, and we had to time it to 11:00 p.m. in Babylon, then that would affect all the other eclipses by whatever difference there was based upon this revision. And that difference would have to then be applied to the 478BCE eclipse event to determine if it was compatible with setting while eclipsed or not, preferably in TOTAL phase, but acceptable in the partial phase. So what happens when you apply the new timing? Surprise, surprise! When you apply the revised timing of the SK400 eclipse event to the timing of the eclipse in 479BCE, indeed, the eclipse was at total phase in Babylon when the moon set!!!
But this would be an INCREDIBLE reference, therefore, for the dating of the reign of Nabonidus! It would date his 2nd year in 479-478BCE!!!! But that is a DIRECT, ABSOLUTE dating per astronomical event. Thus you can begin his reign in 480BCE. Since the Bible dates the 1st of Cyrus in 455BCE after a 6-year rule of Darius the Mede, it means that Babylon must have fallen in 462BCE, giving Nabonidus a 19-year rule.
3. FINALLY, THE CRYPTIC REFERENCE IN JOSEPHUS, AGAINST APION 1.21. Now this is just given as a reference since the rule of Nabonidus is brought up and this is part of the "research" though speculative. It may not come up often but it is there and I'm just giving it to you since it is a third reference to why we would presume to date the reign of Nabonidus 19 years.
Now this reference is famous for claiming that Jerusalem was desolate for "fifty years" versus "seventy years" even though Josephus mentioned the 70 years just 2 paragraphs earlier. Thus this looks like a contradiction and thus is suspicious for a cryptic reference to the original chronology which Josephus would have known about. To get right to the point, he gives some numbers for some events in the context of the seige of "Tyre" that are believed to simply be a cryptic reference to major events during the reign of Nabonidus and leading when the 1st of Cyrus when the Jews were released.
Now just PRESUMING, therefore, that Josephus was discussing the last years of Babylon and not Tyre, you would assign a 19-year rule to Nabonidus. How so? Because he claims that the siege of Tyre was 13 years beginning in the 7th year of Nebuchadnezzar. If that is a reference to the 7th year of Nabonidus, though, then the 13th year would fall in the 19th year of Nabonidus as far as the fall of Babylon goes. Now as a parallel event, Josephus in the same paragraph speaks of the rule of "Hirom" of Tyre, a 20-year rule counting from the 2nd year. This would be a reference to the 20 years INCLUSIVE of Cyrus. That is, Cyrus ruled for 20 years in Persia and then in his 21st year became king in Babylon when he started over again. Thus if you wanted his rule to begin int he 20th year, you start counting 20 years beginning in the second year. This basically thus counts the 20 years from the 7th year of Nabonidus instead of the 6th year of Nabonidus when Cyrus began to rule. Establishing that reference, with the 13-year siege of "Babylon" being parallel to this 20-year rule that ends the 1st of Cyrus, the reference to Cyrus becoming king in the 14th year matches to the kingship of Darius, the Mede which started a year after. If that was the case, then 6 years later you'd see the 1st of Cyrus:
Here is a comparison of the rule of Naonidus/Darius the Mede in column 1 and Cyrus in colum 2, (in parentheses is the 20-year implied rule of Hirom)
6th of Nabonidus = 1st of Cyrus
7th - 2 (1st of Hirom starts in 2nd year)
8th - 3 (2nd)
9th -4 (3rd)
19th-14th(13th year seige ends when started 7th of Nabonidus)
1st of Darius the Mede - 15th of Cyrus (14th - kingship of "Cyrus" in 14th of Hirom, ref. to Darius)
2nd - 16th (15th)
3rd - 17th (16th)
4th - 18th (17th)
5th - 19th (18th)
6th - 20th (19th)
1st of Cyrus - 21st of Cyrus (20th of "Hirom" is 1st of Cyrus)
Because of the above match-up perfectly with what we know was the original chronology, this serves as a secondary back-up confirmation from Josephus that he at least knew that Nabonidus ruled for 18 years, and Darius the Mede for 6 years before Cyrus came to the throne.
So in conclusion, you've got a WHOLE LOT OF ISSUES to consider when you get to the rule of Nabonidus as far as historical references for those who are inclined to accept that the Persians revised the surviving records but left clues in astronomical references to the original chronology.
The mean result, though, is that it thus doesn't matter whether or not the WTS dates the rule of Nabonidus as 17 years since it would be challenged anyway and they are not using the Bible to determine this.
So, basically talk all you want about a 16-year rule or 17-year rule for Nabonidus, but he actually ruled 19 years. Those are just the numbers referencing the revised chronology. Several references, as noted above, would suggest/confirm that Nabonidus actually ruled for 19 years, reduced in the revisionism to 17 to match the rule of Belshazzar.
Just wanted to make sure you knew EVERYTHING on the table regarding Nabonidus, whether you reject it or not or remain undecided.
Thanks for the post! I love ancient chronology!